Thrive Global Interview | Jacqui Stephen of Siemba Heritage: “Learn from those mistakes”
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My family is from Argentina and many of my close relatives live in Argentina currently, so I’ve traveled to the country a few times. During one of my trips a few years back I popped into a store that sold beautiful artisanal items that were hand made by the indigenous communities of Argentina. I learned more about these indigenous communities through the owner who purchased these handmade items firsthand from these local artisan communities. Not only was I awe-struck by the beautiful craftsmanship of the hand-made items, but I also learned how by doing this he was supporting the artisan’s quests to be self-sufficient and self-sustaining, and that was something I wanted to get involved in to. So, I started Siembra Heritage to further the mission of celebrating and supporting goods created by ancestral techniques handed down from generation to generation.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
I met a gentleman and his family from the Qom community that create beautiful baskets, totes, purses, and other interior décor items out of palms using an ancestral weaving technique. My very first order of bags I ordered from this gentleman who introduced me to the bags and shared about the communities. I still remember the shock and excitement from this man and his community: They could not believe that someone from the United States was buying their products and selling them. He was so humbled and honored for the opportunity. I was so moved and humbled by his message, I saved the message and still have it saved. When the pandemic hit, I continued to purchase from him just to help them survive. They depend on open markets to sell their products and with the pandemic all those markets were shut down. I wasn’t selling anything at that time, but I couldn’t abandon the families and communities who were so excited just a year earlier.